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4 Ways Men Can Support The Women In Their Lives Who’ve Experienced Sexual Assault

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How Men Can Support A Woman Suffering From Pain & Trauma From Sexual Assault & Abuse

Sexual abuse leaves deep scars.

From small towns in the mid-west to big cities, rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone, even people you most likely know. And sadly, sexual abuse happens in majority of places around the world. 

As a psychologist and former rape crisis counselor, I have had classmates sharing their stories with me recently. I would never violate the confidentiality of anyone but here is what I can tell you — there were multiple sexual assaults and rapes that occurred during my time attending high school and my guess is that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

RELATED: How To Talk About #MeToo Subjects Like Abuse, Sexual Abuse & Sexuality

You never know who may be suffering from trauma, pain, and damage to mental health because of sexual assault. So, please remember that when you speak about these topics to the people you know, many of them may be survivors. 

Many of these Me Too Movement stories are not just about rapists attacking in an alley or from some college you did not attend; these are people who are your friends right here on Facebook; both victims and offenders.

With recent events in the news, a few men have asked how they can support women they know during a time when so many are triggered by their own sexual assaults and/or rape.

Here are 4 ways to support women who may be suffering with the trauma, pain, and negative emotions that arise after a sexual assault or rape:

1. Be kind to women right now

About one in five women have experienced some form of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or rape. 

And reading about things like this in the news can bring up a lot of the intense feelings they have had when it comes to these issues.

2. Do not make jokes about rape, sexual assault, and misogyny

Many women are struggling with depression and anger about what they experienced, and making light of these allegations makes it feel like men still do not get it.

It is important that you do get it. Our society needs to make women feel safe about reporting sexual abuse.

RELATED: 7 Ways Men Can Join The #MeToo Movement (Without Drowning Out Women's Voices)

3. Keep in mind it is not the best time to play devil's advocate 

Not all the facts are out yet, and presenting the innocence of someone you cannot be sure is innocent is part of the very reason so many women do not report what happens to them.

It takes an incredible amount of courage to come forward with an accusation like this. It comes at a great personal cost. Frankly, making a case for someone that you simply do not know whether or not they're innocent does not make a woman feel safe.

And, it most often makes women feel that they can't talk about the devastating abuse that happened to them.

Let the facts come to light and speak for themselves. Empower yourself and the women in your lives — sit back, listen, and learn.

4. Communicate by asking and listening

If you are not sure how to act, what to say, or how to move forward, simply ask her for her thoughts. Ask what she is comfortable with, and how you can help.

Women need you to help them make changes to society, which, for too long, have kept them feeling like they must carry the burden of sexual assault and rape in silence, shame, and humiliation.

We need good men to show support right now and we would really appreciate those who did do such things to atone.

If you think this might be helpful for you and other men who don't know how to help the women around them, share this. #metoo #whyididntreport, #believevictims

RELATED: What All The Men Named In The #MeToo Sexual Harassment Stories Have In Common

Lisa Lawless is the founder and C.E.O. of Holistic Wisdom, Inc. which is a leading sexual wellness company that provides education, resources and products to both consumers and professionals via NAASAS.

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